James is a London based technology blogger and writer for The Next Web Network. Working for UK online advertising agency 20:20 Media and An James is a London based technology blogger and writer for The Next Web Network. Working for UK online advertising agency 20:20 Media and Analytics, James has a strong passion for start ups, social media, apps and the web community. He can be found writing for his personal, company and of course TNW UK blogs. Follow him via Twitter and Facebook.
The Difference Engine is a new incubator, based in the north-east of the UK, willing to put £200,000.00 into 10 budding digital start ups that can be based anywhere.
In what is thought to be one of the first major acceleration programmes outside of London, they will receive 8% equity on any return the start ups make with the aim of sparking an increasingly attractive business environment in the local and national economy.
Although they are looking to develop the local business environment, businesses are not restricted to the area after the programme and can be from anywhere; as long as they can work legally in the UK that is.
The programme revolves around a mentoring system with both public sector and entrepreneurial support offering a fantastic opportunity for the winning applicants. Some of the mentors include influential individuals from both local and national company’s including Strategic Development Director of Onyx Group, Alistair White and Alan Timothy, Chief Scientist at i-snapshot.
The launch of The Difference Engine is a reflection upon how much unlocked entrepreneurial talent we know there is in the UK and Europe,” said Jon Bradford, managing director, The Difference Engine. “A lot of this talent never realises its potential because there is limited access for young entrepreneurs to intensive mentor lead programmes. The Difference Engine is something UK entrepreneurialism, and the digital sector, worldwide, has been crying out for.”
At the start, each team will be given £20,000 in return for an eight per cent share in the resulting business. At the conclusion of the programme, investor-ready businesses, will present to a group of venture capitalists and angel investors at a demonstration day.
John Bradford, the man behind the programme re-affirms the need and also the potential for these kind of offerings in the UK.
“Similar programmes have been a great success overseas, namely TechStars in the US, and such initiatives really can play a crucial role in developing a start-up culture,” continued Bradford. “We are confident that the calibre of this programme will enable the creation of some of the country’s most exciting digital start-ups, who will make a valuable contribution to the UK’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
“The Difference Engine is comparable to Y Combinator (Silicon Valley), TechStars (Boulder, Colorado & Boston, Massachusetts) and Seedcamp (London). Outside of London, this will be the first major acceleration programme to be set up in Europe.” read the Press release.
The first programme, based in Middlesbrough is as mentioned accepting applicants now with a deadline of 4 January 2010 and start date of 15 February. The second will start in July and be based in nearby Sunderland.
There is an abundance of talent in the UK, and with The Difference Engine and hopefully many more programmes from them and other accelerators, we will see increased innovation and investment on British soil.
Here at The Next Web UK – we have a real passion for start ups and look forward to not only hearing how the programme and it’s start ups get on but any other talented businesses wanting to expose their products and services to a UK and international audience.
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